Bo is a Principal Consultant for ThreeWill. He has 18 years of full lifecycle software development experience.
I always look forward to the Ignite Conference because there are so many announcements across so many different platforms and technologies. As we all know this year, the 2020 Ignite Conference, was a little bit different since it was virtual, but there was no shortage of information. One thing that has not changed is that Jeff Teper’s session is a must–see, if you didn’t catch it you can see it here if you registered for Ignite. If you did not register for Ignite there is also a video here from the product team that covers some of the items below.
For this post, I thought I would share a few items I am excited about that are coming soon to SharePoint Online. Specifically, I want to focus on things related to Digital Workplaces with an emphasis on communication scenarios and content authoring scenarios. Believe me, I am excited about Project Cortex and things coming out of that like SharePoint Syntex, but that is a bigger post for another day.
And if you want to read up on announcements from previous years, check out our blog posts from the past years.
SharePoint App Bar
From an overall Digital Workplace and information architecture standpoint, the SharePoint App Bar will finally solve a challenge many organizations have been dealing with. Namely, hub sites are great but there was not an out-of-the-box way to have global navigation. Typically, this has been solved by having Azure sync the navigation from one main hub to the other “child” hubs. Additionally, Microsoft pulled in several other nice features that users typically had to go to the SharePoint home page to use.
No comments are needed here. Probably the most discussed topic once users have decided they need more than one hub is global navigation.
This has been on the SharePoint home page for a while and often I work with customers to add this to their home sites so there is personalization based on the logged–in user. Now it will be available to them no matter what site or page they are on in SharePoint.
Another available configuration of the News web part on home pages and on home sites that is also on the SharePoint home. Having news available anywhere ensures users can get to the key news easily no matter where they are.
This is available on the office landing page and SharePoint home page, but I think it’s a great addition in the SharePoint App Bar. While I do not often talk a lot about files when focusing on Communication scenarios as part of a Digital Workplace, I think you cannot think about SharePoint without considering files.
In Modern SharePoint, News is everywhere and corporate communications types want to make sure that the information they are publishing is being read. I like where news boost is heading with the ability to push a news post up in importance based on factors like until it is read, or until it’s reached a certain number of impressions or even until a specific date. This gives communicators more control to influence when and how news shows up.
I think this was announced last year or maybe I have just been hearing about it for a long time. So, it’s not new information but I think it should be finally hitting tenants this year by the end of the year. This feature will be great for corporate communications teams and others to prepare content well in advance and not have to go back to content simply to publish it on a given day.
Personally, this may be one of the things I am most excited about when thinking about Digital Workplaces. So often we work with customer’s on–site provisioning and site creation processes with a focus on ensuring site owners get off on the right foot with their sites. Site Designs and Site Scripts have always felt they lacked the robustness to support full site templatization and customization. So, we have relied on the PnP Provisioning templates and PnP PowerShell commands. Hearing that Microsoft is building the PnP Provisioning Engine into the product is great news and I cannot wait to start using this with customers.
This has been something customers have been asking for and we have built custom solutions for in the past. With Site Pages and News posts getting easier to do and longer, the desire to provide more and more ways to break up pages and content is a desire all page authors seem to have. I love the growth that Section Groups have seen. First, it was background colors and now this is a giant leap forward with the ability to collapse like an accordion or even like tabs.
Audiences in Quick Links and Events
I am a big fan of audiences and we used them in News and Pages for a customer almost the second they were released by Microsoft. Having them in the header and footer navigation has been a great addition this year. Quick Links has seemed like the obvious next step so seeing this announcement was confirmation that customers need to focus on establishing good security groups in Active Directory and we can continue to make their intranet more and more intelligent, personalized, and powerful.
Org Chart web part
We use the People web part a lot for customers when you want to show people information related to a given site or page and I am a huge fan of it. Customers always jump to wanting an organizational tree shown, and while the profile card shows it, many end users just do not know it. Users also do not want to jump over to Delve, they want the information right there on the page they are on. I know many of our customers will love having this web part in their arsenal.
Conclusion – 2020 Ignite Conference Recap
I am sure there are tons of other features that I either missed or just skipped because I had heard about them earlier. That is the thing about SharePoint, there is something different to every person that uses it. This is why I tried to focus this post on authoring and corporate communication type topics you’d care about in a Digital Workplace. If I had opened it up to Search, Project Cortex, or SPFx we would be here for weeks. What about you? What SharePoint features for are you excited to see that is coming soon to a tenant near you? And did you attend the 2020 Ignite Conference? Leave a comment below.